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Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Visit to an LBBG Colony on Sark

Catherine and I went over to one of the Sark LBBG colonies today to try to get a few more colour rings on adults from known breeding sites. The colony isn't big (c 130 pairs - many of which are inaccessible), so it was a very pleasant well-paced short day...but the best bit was trapping three of our 2011 cannon netted Lesser Black-backed Gulls on their nests, as well as an adult originally caught in our garden at Ty Coed in May 2010! This was four out of 14 birds caught in total - not a bad ratio at all!
We also trapped a bird that was metal ringed as a chick in the same colony in July it has a colour ring so we should find it easier to record this bird.
Needless to say I am very pleased indeed that four more of our adult LBBGs can now be traced to their breeding colonies. The studies just get more and more interesting.
LBBG Black 1.R0 caught at Ty Coed - May 2010 - known to be nesting on Sark - PKV

Monday, May 23, 2011

News from Burhou, Alderney

The Alderney Wildlife Trust ecologist (Liz Morgan) sent me exciting news today of several sightings on 17/18 May 2011 of my colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Burhou, Alderney. These included Black 3.N2, which was ringed as a breeding adult on the islet in June 2010. I was fortunate enough to see this gull at Porto de Lagos Landfill, Algarve, Portugal in November 2010. It is very nice to know that it is now back on Burhou for another breeding season.
LBBG Black 3.N2 Porto de Lagos Landfill, Algarve, Portugal 18 November 2010 - PKV

The Gull Team at Chouet

My apologies for the lack of blog entries this week, but we have all been incredibly busy trying to ring adult gulls at Chouet landfiill. Paul Roper and members of the North Thames Gull Group once again very kindly visited Guernsey to help with our long-term gull studies. Due to an incredible amount of hard work by them, and the Guernsey Team (assisted by helpers from Jersey too), and the tremendous help and support given by staff and management at Chouet landfill, and the almost perfect weather...we managed to exceed all our wildest expectations and catch somewhere in the region of 1800 large gulls.

This will make a staggeringly large contribution to our long term studies on the gulls of the Channel Islands and the changes that are happening (and are likely to continue to happen) in their populations and breeding ecology.

I don't yet have the details of the catches...or the exact totals...but we are already observing some of the newly ringed birds in their breeding colonies, and there has also been a movement of a Lesser Black-backed Gull to Gloucester, ENGLAND (within a matter of days of ringing).

There were so many incredible experiences during the week, that it is hard to pick out highlights, but I will include a few in the blog entries for the next week or two - as time permits.

In the meantime...a huge THANK YOU to Paul Roper, and the North Thames Gull Group Team, and also to the Guernsey Seabird Team and its helpers. Such scientific studies would simply not be possible without the help of a large and commited team of people!
Part of the Gull Team in full flow - (c) Mark Lawlor

Monday, May 16, 2011

Black-headed Gull Back in Lithuania

Vytautas Pareigis has very kindly let us know that Black-headed Gull Black P547 which Tim Earl and I saw in Alderney last autumn and winter, is now back at the original ringing site at Dumpiai dump in Klaipeda region, LITHUANIA. This bird had been ringed there as an adult male on 1st April 2010, and was seen in Alderney on 28 August 2010 (PKV) and 15 October 2010 (Tim Earl).
Black-headed Gull Black P547 Crabby Beach, Alderney 28/10/10 - PKV

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Seabird Season Commences

The Guernsey Seabird Team made its first trip out to monitor the breeding seabirds on The Humps (a small collection of tiny islets north of Herm) yesterday afternoon. To minimise disturbance to the breeding seabirds, visits during the seabird breeding season to these islets are not allowed except with permission for the annual Seabird Monitoring Programme. We landed briefly on two of the islets to monitor the breeding Cormorants.  The first landing was on Godin, where it was obvious that the Cormorants had bred both early and successfully. Around 25 active nests were counted, and 60+ chicks observed (one of the most successful seasons seen). However, many of the chicks were very large, some had actually fledged...which is remarkably early for Guernsey! 23 Cormorant and one Shag chicks were ringed.

Last year the Cormorant colony split with just under half the birds nesting on nearby Longue Pierre, but this year all the birds are once agan on Godin. Most of the Shag are nesting on Longue Pierre this year. It does not look like a "bumper year" for this species, but again it is an early season. 44 Shag chicks were ringed, which is many more than would normally be expected on such an early visit. c 40 Shag nests were counted on Longue Pierre and 15 nests on Godin.

All in all a rather promising start to the 2011 Seabird Monitoring Programme.
Great Cormorant chicks on Godin - PKV
Godin - PKV
Ringing Cormorant chicks - Godin PKV
Shag Chicks Longue Pierre - PKV
Herring Gull nest Longue Pierre - PKV
Adult Common Guillemot Longue Pierre - PKV

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Start of the LBBG ringing Season

Over the past two weekends Chris Mourant, Catherine and I have made a modest, but important, start to the 2011 ringing season for Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  I was particularly pleased to catch a few of these gulls to make sure that the new batch of colour rings I've rolled for the 2011 season fit well. I am happy with the results. It was also good for the three of us to get familiar again with handling a few adult gulls ahead of the visit of Paul Roper and members of the North Thames Gull Group in just over a week. This is a very important week, when we try to catch and colour ring a good sample of the adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls which are feeding at Chouet landfill.
Chris with LBBG Black 7A5 - PKV
LBBG Black 7A1 - PKV

Monday, May 2, 2011

Herring Gulls at Pleinmont, Guernsey

On Sunday morning Catherine and I walked the cliffs at the south-western tip of Guernsey (Pleinmont) trying to find the nesting colonies of colour ringed gulls. Although the Herring Gulls appeared to us to be very thinly distributed this year we did manage to locate three colour ringed birds - all from Jamie Hooper's project (run from 1998 - 2007). All three were ringed as chicks by Jamie, two at Pleinmont (White 9F2 in 2001 and White 8P6 in 2004), but the third bird was one of the original birds from 1998 (White 6B9) and this gull had been ringed at Jerbourg Cliffs on the south-eastern tip of Guernsey.
Pleinmont Cliffs, Guernsey 01 May 2011 - PKV

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Icelandic Lesser Black-backed Gull in Guernsey

On a fairly quiet Saturday at Chouet, the highlight was a 2nd summer (3rd calendar year) Lesser Black-backed Gull, which had been ringed by Gunnar Thor Hallgrimsson in Iceland in the summer of 2009 - Blue YL52. Thanks to Antonio Gutierrez I know that this gull was seen on Lanzarote, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands on 04 January 2010 (Juan Sagardia)!
LBBG Blue YL52 Chouet landfill Beach - 30 April 2011 - PKV